I can't continue on like this, thought Lorist as he decided to use a very troublesome method to get out of his training limb: training in another mid-ranked Battle Force technique of the same attribute up to the Silver rank temporarily and return to the Blazing Battle Force once he obtains the rest of the technique.
This method of training was not unprecedented, but it really pushed the cultivator's perseverance and concentration to the limit. Even if certain Battle Force techniques had the same attributes, there were fine differences between the nodes used to form the hexagram circulation path in the body. That was especially the case with the minor nodes involved in the circulation. If any unnatural changes occur, such as the formation of unintentional connections between certain circulation nodes, it would cause even more complications. The cultivator must first forget and suppress their previous training habits before training in another technique from scratch.
There really was no easy way to go about this.
By the sound of its name, the Blazing Battle Force seemed to be of the fire attribute. Lorist had no way of confirming the type, however, as the hand copy he possessed only had the name on the cover and jumped right into the hexagram circulation diagrams for the Bronze and Iron ranks, not containing any shred of additional information at all.
Therefore, he spent a small fortune and obtained a mid-ranked fire attribute Scorching Flame Battle Force technique. It is said that one could reach the peak of the Silver rank with it. But, when Lorist opened the page, he was dumbfounded.
The Scorching Flame Battle Force technique's hexagram circulation diagram differed too much from that of his own technique. That was especially the case with all of the major nodes. How could he bring himself to train in that?
At first, he reasoned that the difference was due to the technique being mid-ranked while his own Blazing Battle Force being a high-ranked technique. But then again, no matter the rank, Battle Force techniques of the same attribute should not differ so much in terms of the major nodes. To further investigate the issue, Lorist purchased a few more mid-ranked fire attribute techniques and compared them. The rest of the techniques had node points that were largely similar to those of the Scorching Flame Battle Force but were all incompatible with those of his own Blazing Battle Force. That could only mean that the Blazing Battle Force was not a fire attribute technique.
Gosh, what other attribute could it be if it wasn't a fire type technique?
Without a choice, Lorist got several other mid-ranked techniques of different attributes among which included water, wood, metal, earth, even ones with light and wind attributes. After some careful research, he concluded that the Blazing Battle Force had no connection to any of the attributes of these other techniques. This was a very worrisome conclusion for Lorist and made him reconsider whether the Blazing Battle Force was a fire attribute technique after all, with the cause for the different diagrams being the difference in rank.
But something happened during this time which removed the notion from his mind. Due to the lack of progress in his training, Lorist decided to focus his thoughts elsewhere during the academy holidays. He formed a small party with a few other friends and decided to go to the Sunset Mountains to hunt some low-ranked magical beasts.
The Sunset Mountains was the home of a rare magical beast called the Gold-horned Flamefox. Its fur could change according to the seasons: the colder the temperature, the redder its fur would turn, making the demand for its fur very high in the market. And the golden horn of the fox also emitted a fragrance which repelled bugs. It was also rumored that once the horn was ground to dust, it could improve the endurance and performance of the 'male organ'. This caused the Gold-horned Flamefox to be hunted to the point of near extinction.
Lorist and his gang were fortunate enough to discover the trails of a Gold-horned Flamefox during that trip and had spent three days and nights before finally tracking down and slaying the beast. However, as they prepared to depart from the mountains, they discovered some people who lusted after their haul.
Places like the Sunset Mountains had always been lawless areas where the strong devoured the weak. It was common for adventurers or mercenaries to be on their guard for other humans as they hunted magical beasts.
Having been hunting low-ranked beasts around the outskirts of the mountains, Lorist's group did not attract any unwanted attention from the other hunters. But that changed after they got the Gold-horned Flamefox.
The ones who blocked their path were seven Silver ranked mercenaries who belonged to a mercenary group with a reputation for robbery which was based at at a town near the mountains. That mercenary group probably started paying attention to Lorist and gang when they were purchasing some necessities at the town and decided to send seven Silver ranked experts to take the spoils by force.
Lorist's group only had five people with three Iron ranks and two Silver ranks. Fully aware of the disparity in power, the robbers not only demanded Lorist's group to hand over their haul, but also to leave every equipment they had on their hands besides their undergarments behind. Charade was also present in the group at that time and was at the One Star Silver rank. Being the miser he is, he got enraged by their demands and attacked without another word. The rest of the group soon followed suit and went all out on their attackers.
To the robbers' surprise, three of them instantly fell to Lorist and his gang. Two of the remaining four were preoccupied with keeping Lorist at bay while the other two cried out for help under the relentless attacks of Charade and the other three of Lorist's gang.
The struggle ended with Lorist sticking his blade through the back of an escaping robber. Of the seven Silver ranked mercenaries, two were dead and five others were hurt badly. This was the first time Lorist had killed since he crossed over to the Grindia Continent, and to his surprise, he did not feel an ounce of rejection or nausea following the act of killing.
The deathly miser stripped the seven mercenaries of all their belongings, staying true to his name and leaving them stark naked. The group of five profited a little from this fight and even found a high-ranked earth attribute Battle Force manual on the body of the guy who attempted to escape but was struck down by Lorist. It was called the 'Myriad Mountains Battle Force'.
But nobody in his squad trained in the earth attribute and Lorist himself didn't know what his attribute was. The Battle Force manual was useless to them and was better off sold off for a few hundred gold coins.
But Charade remembered that Lorist was collecting Battle Force manuals for research purposes in order to break through the Iron rank. Additionally, Lorist contributed most to the previous fight and handled five of the robbers himself. Had it not been for Lorist's abilities, they would be hard-pressed fending off seven Silver ranked mercenaries. And so, the rest of the group came to a unanimous decision and decided to give Lorist the Battle Force manual.
After splitting the spoils and returning to Morante City, Lorist started to analyze the high-ranked earth attribute Battle Force manual. Comparing it to a mid-ranked earth attribute Battle Force, he discovered that they had many similarities. Most of the major nodes that constituted the hexagram circulation paths were roughly the same, with the only difference being the high-ranked technique having more complicated paths among the minor and miscellaneous nodes between the major nodes.
Scratching his head in futility, he understood that the Blazing Battle Force he trained in definitely did not belong to the fire attribute given the glaring differences it had with other mid-ranked fire attribute techniques.
On one hand, he could only train the Blazing Battle Force to the peak of the Iron rank and could not advance from there. On the other, he couldn't figure out what attribute his technique belonged to and didn't dare to rashly pick up any other mid-ranked technique to train in. In time, his body would no longer be able to keep up with his ever improving dynamic vision. He didn't want his movements to be slower than his awareness during battle.
What should he do? How would he progress in his training? These thoughts kept Lorist awake for nights. Ugh... What's with this accursed Blazing Battle Force technique...
As he tossed about in bed one night, Lorist suddenly recalled the sight of his grandfather training in the Aquametal Technique. Startled by his sudden insight, he thought, That's right! Why don't I try training in the Aquametal Technique? That technique held an even higher place in his heart than the Blazing Battle Force as it was the hereditary technique of his real family in his past life!
He remembered the scene when he struggled to maintain the horse stance with his cousins under the instruction of his grandfather. He was surprised that he could still recall the training methods, Ki pathways, the body meridian map, the Aquametal foundations as well as the Aquametal Sword Techniques. It was like they were imprinted upon his soul.
With his eyes tearing up in nostalgia, he got off his bed and took up the horse stance, basking in the moonlight that shined through the window in his room.
The first form of the Bright Stage of the Aquametal Technique: Immutability of A Thousand Cliffs.
Be focused with a calm heart, breathe in thrice and let it out all at once. Let me meld into the void and forget my physical existence.
All of a sudden, a red sun leaped up from the oceans, illuminating the world. For some time, the oceans and rivers remained calm without a wave. Without warning, a giant tide rose from the seas and formed a great cliff in the middle of the ocean. The peak resembled a blade which cut through the giant, crashing waves with unwavering and everlasting vitality.
After some time, the raging waves started to weaken and calm. The vast ocean quickly returned to its former tranquil state and was smooth as a mirror. Only that towering cliff stood unmoving, proudly overseeing this vast realm.
Full of delight and surprise, Lorist slowly opened his eyes. The training speed was too fast! In his previous life, it took him three years of training under his grandfather's tutelage to reach the point when he could visualize that scene of the vast ocean in his mind. In this life, however, it only took him one try to enter that realm. This was unimaginable.
Now that he had mastered the first form, it would only take him two or three months of training for him to be able to start the second form, 'Timeless Waterflow'. In his previous life, he took three years to master the first form and six for the second. After that, he enlisted in the army but never quite reached the third form, the 'Robust Warhorse'. After he retired and inherited his father's workshop, he often neglected his training and only practiced half-heartedly. That was one of the greatest regrets he had in his past life.
The first three forms of the Aquametal Technique wasn't actually that complicated. The first form focused on the twelve standard meridians whereas the second and the third prioritized the unleashing of the eight extraordinary meridians. Once the eight meridians worked in concert with the twelve standard meridians to form the Major Cycle, one would reach the peak of the Bright Stage and had a chance to progress into the Dark Stage.
But training in the first form required one to be able to feel the Ki flowing through the twelve standard meridians as well as visualize the realm of the raging sea to train and fortify one's mind and soul to the point that it would be unshakable by anything and be able to remain calm at all times, even if Mt Tai itself were to come crashing in front of oneself.
Lorist didn't expect to be able to reach this point in only one training session. Even though his body was sweating heavily, he felt energized and refreshed like never before. In his excitement, he picked up his sword and started swinging away. His body moved as his mind willed as his sword soared through the air. This feeling was hard to put into words. The lag between his intentions and his movements did not exist anymore.
Sheathing his sword, Lorist decided to continue training and stabilizing his foundations by practicing in the first form once more. However, just as he went into the horse stance, he was startled to find that his Battle Force had disappeared.
The Battle Force that lurked in his veins could not be felt anymore. Lorist let out a cold sweat, quickly sat down with his legs crossed and started to meditate. He tried to manifest them like he usually did and felt the circulation of Battle Force within the hexagram circulation path in his body. Just as he was about to let out a sigh of release, the Battle Force dissipated from his body.
What is going on? Frustrated that his Battle Force kept giving him problems, he tried again for a few times but the same thing happened over and over. Sheesh. I don't even want to care anymore. Let's go back to training in the Aquametal Technique, thought Lorist, disheartened.
Just as he was preparing to visualize the small realm after he got into the horse stance, Lorist felt that his meridians was filled to the brink with some kind of energy. Huh? Why does this feel so familiar? He calmed himself down and continued his inspection. Wait, isn't this Battle Force? Why has it gone inside my meridians? No wonder he trained that quickly in the Aquametal Technique. It was due to the presence of Battle Force.
But he didn't know whether training in the Aquametal Technique using Battle Force was a healthy practice or not. Nevertheless, the increase in his body's strength and agility that allowed his movements to synchronize with his will was beneficial. Lorist decided that he'll keep on training like this and cross that bridge when the time comes.
See this page to learn more about meridians. See Wikipedia.